Stairway to Heaven

A while back I wrote about our hallway and how much I loved it.  I'm not sure if you noticed or not, but something important was missing from our staircase.  Need a hint?  Here's a photo to help you out:

Still don't get it?

A handrail!

Call us daredevils, but Mike and I didn't feel the need to install a new handrail right away.  I'm the only one that's fallen down the stairs, (Mike's fallen up them a couple of times, but I don't think he would have been saved by a handrail anyways - he runs up them too fast) and actually the first thing I said after I fell, (okay, after some four-letter words), was "I want a bleeping handrail."  Mike then politely pointed out that I fell on the bottom two steps after the landing and wouldn't have been saved by a handrail had there been one.  I had a bruise the size of a softball for two weeks.

With the arrival of a couple weekend guests, (in the form of Mike's grandparents), we thought it was about time to tackle this small project, just to be safe.

Before we removed all the signs of the previous stairway, we did save the old handrail.  It had seen better days, and like everything else in the house, was covered with about 4 layers of paint.  Finally ending with the current layer, an off-white/yellowy color.  Definitely not something that would look nice in our hallway.  Not to mention the profile was almost a circle, kinda like this one:

We weren't really feeling it.  So, with the prospect of stripping and refinishing an ugly handrail, we ultimately decided to just buy a new one.  We went with more of an oval profile and bought 10' for the 9' span, (definitely better to have extra for nice clean edges and possible mistakes).

At $3.28/LF the total came to $32.80.  Add to that a small can of Minwax stain in Ebony for $4.31, and we were out the door for under $40.  I chose ebony to make it pop a little bit and bring out the dark veins in the stairs.  And, most importantly cause it would look cool. 

After cutting and sanding the handrail to the right length, we used some brackets we had bought a couple months ago, (knowing we would eventually have to put one in) to install it.  We chose to temporarily install it before staining and finishing it so that we wouldn't damage the finished product, and any mistakes could be fixed before staining.

After two coats of stain, and two coats of some clear shellac we had on hand, we were ready to install the handrail permanently.  And the finished product:

And that concludes the world's longest post about a handrail.

All handrail products and stain images found at Home Depot.

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